Serbia from 2000: Milomevi|’s poisonous legacy
Milomevi|’s hold over Serbia appeared in no danger of weakening after NATO’s occupation of Kosovo. Indeed, there was no shortage of Western critics who argued that by bringing war directly to Serbia with air-strikes on part of the civilian infrastructure, the leaders of NATO had thrown Milomevi| a lifeline. But defeat undermined his position. Many nationalists believed he had sacrificed Serbia’s territorial integrity to shore up his own position. One group he had used for bloody missions, but which he had gradually lost control of as its size mushroomed, also had cause to reassess its ties with Milomevi|. This was the large criminal sector that had emerged from the bloated Serbian security apparatus and the subterranean economy. A veritable Serbian mafia had benefited from sanctions, the effective collapse of the rule of law, smuggling and the looting of the state. The West’s confrontation with the man who had been their patron gave their own activities an unwelcome degree of exposure and notoriety. It is unlikely that the mafia felt that their operations would be under threat from any power-shift within Serbia. So a change at the top could enable their illicit economic activities to be pursued in a more predictable manner.